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Keith Packard: Goodbye-Barnes-and-Noble

28 October, 2014 - 10:54
Goodbye Barnes & Noble

I've read books on electronic devices for many years now; the convenience of having a huge library with me while traveling makes up for the lower quality of the presentation. I've read books on a selection of Palm devices, an old OpenInkpot compatible ereader, my phone and, most recently, on my Kobo Aura.

To get reading material, I've used a variety of sources, including the venerable Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, directly from authors like Cory Doctorow and even our local Multnomah County Public Library.

I like to have books in epub format; it's a published standard, based on HTML and CSS. My recent devices have all happily supported that, and it allows for editing when I feel the need to correct typos or formatting problems.

Purchasing Books

When I wanted to actually purchase a book, I bought from Barnes & Noble; they have a good selection, and reasonable automatic recommendations. According to their web site, since I started shopping there, I've purchased 51 books. I can't tell how much I've spent, but probably in excess of $500.

Not knowing which device I'd be reading on at any one time, and liking to have the assurance of ongoing access to my library, I would always download the epub files to my laptop and then transfer them to whichever device I wanted to read on. This ensured that my books would be available even when I didn't have a network connection (as happened yesterday during a wind storm which cut the power to the DSLAM which connects me to the internet).

I'd created a simple shell script which captured the file after it was downloaded on my laptop and prepared it for my reader. A bit of browser configuration and it really was as simple as clicking the 'download' button to get a book onto both my laptop and my reading device.

Barnes & Noble Disables Downloading

I was traveling in Bordeaux a couple of weeks ago and wanted to get the latest volume in a series I was reading. My library didn't have it available, and so I decided that it was worth a few dollars to purchase it for the flight home.

After clicking through the Barnes & Noble store, I was ready to download the book so that I could transfer it to my reader. Going to 'My Library', I found my new purchases but the usual 'Download' button was missing. I was a bit surprised as I'd purchased and downloaded the previous volume just before leaving without any troubles.

At first, I assumed there was some kind of region restriction on the distribution of this book. I'm familiar with that from DVD region locking of movies, and supposed that the same could be done with books for some reason. However, after setting up a VPN back to home and browsing through that (to ensure that my browser would appear with an Oregon address), the download button was still not present.

The unhelpful Barnes & Noble representative that I accessed through the 'help' button disclosed that the 'download' "feature" had been disabled for "security" reasons.

Not really having any alternative, I requested a refund for the new book.

Barnes & Noble Loses a Customer

With no way to actually use ebooks purchased through the Barnes & Noble store, I won't be spending any more money with them.

I'm not sure how that helps their "security" issues, although if they lose enough customers and they close their doors, I guess that would make them about as secure as imaginable.

Kobo Makes a Sale

Having purchased a Kobo Aura, it had built-in access to their book store, which made it easy to download the book that I wanted. Then, I simply connected my reader to my laptop and copied the file over for safe keeping.

Buying Books under Linux

After I got home, I had to figure out how to get Adobe Digital Editions installed on my laptop. Fortunately, I discovered that version 2.0.1 runs fine under wine.

Now, purchasing books can be done with my laptop (a vastly superior browsing experience). The .acsm file can be dragged straight from the iceweasel download menu to Adobe Digital Editions, which happily downloads the actual .epub file and makes it available for transferring to my reader.

Of course, now that I've got Adobe Digital Editions working, I can also get digitally restricted books from all over the net, greatly expanding my options for purchasing (or borrowing) books. It's a bit less convenient, and requires that I run an icky Windows binary under wine, but at least I have choices, which is some consolation.

Junichi Uekawa: Running git grep under emacs compilation mode.

28 October, 2014 - 04:49
Running git grep under emacs compilation mode. It's driving me nuts because there's 0xfeff(BOM) at the beginning which seems to break file name matching.

Petter Reinholdtsen: First Jessie based Debian Edu released (alpha0)

28 October, 2014 - 02:40

I am happy to report that I on behalf of the Debian Edu team just sent out this announcement:

The Debian Edu Team is pleased to announce the release of Debian Edu
Jessie 8.0+edu0~alpha0

Debian Edu is a complete operating system for schools. Through its
various installation profiles you can install servers, workstations
and laptops which will work together on the school network. With
Debian Edu, the teachers themselves or their technical support can
roll out a complete multi-user multi-machine study environment within
hours or a few days. Debian Edu comes with hundreds of applications
pre-installed, but you can always add more packages from Debian.

For those who want to give Debian Edu Jessie a try, download and
installation instructions are available, including detailed
instructions in the manual[1] explaining the first steps, such as
setting up a network or adding users. Please note that the password
for the user your prompted for during installation must have a length
of at least 5 characters!

 [1] <URL: https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Documentation/Jessie >

Would you like to give your school's computer a longer life? Are you
tired of sneaker administration, running from computer to computer
reinstalling the operating system? Would you like to administrate all
the computers in your school using only a couple of hours every week?
Check out Debian Edu Jessie!

Skolelinux is used by at least two hundred schools all over the world,
mostly in Germany and Norway.

About Debian Edu and Skolelinux
===============================

Debian Edu, also known as Skolelinux[2], is a Linux distribution based
on Debian providing an out-of-the box environment of a completely
configured school network. Immediately after installation a school
server running all services needed for a school network is set up just
waiting for users and machines being added via GOsa², a comfortable
Web-UI. A netbooting environment is prepared using PXE, so after
initial installation of the main server from CD or USB stick all other
machines can be installed via the network.  The provided school server
provides LDAP database and Kerberos authentication service,
centralized home directories, DHCP server, web proxy and many other
services.  The desktop contains more than 60 educational software
packages[3] and more are available from the Debian archive, and
schools can choose between KDE, Gnome, LXDE, Xfce and MATE desktop
environment.

 [2] <URL: http://www.skolelinux.org/ >
 [3] <URL: http://people.skolelinux.org/pere/blog/Educational_applications_included_in_Debian_Edu___Skolelinux__the_screenshot_collection____.html >

Full release notes and manual
=============================

Below the download URLs there is a list of some of the new features
and bugfixes of Debian Edu 8.0+edu0~alpha0 Codename Jessie. The full
list is part of the manual. (See the feature list in the manual[4] for
the English version.) For some languages manual translations are
available, see the manual translation overview[5].

 [4] <URL: https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Documentation/Jessie/Features >
 [5] <URL: http://maintainer.skolelinux.org/debian-edu-doc/ >

Where to get it
---------------

To download the multiarch netinstall CD release (624 MiB) you can use

 * ftp://ftp.skolelinux.org/skolelinux-cd/debian-edu-8.0+edu0~alpha0-CD.iso
 * http://ftp.skolelinux.org/skolelinux-cd/debian-edu-8.0+edu0~alpha0-CD.iso
 * rsync -avzP ftp.skolelinux.org::skolelinux-cd/debian-edu-8.0+edu0~alpha0-CD.iso .

The SHA1SUM of this image is: 361188818e036ce67280a572f757de82ebfeb095

New features for Debian Edu 8.0+edu0~alpha0 Codename Jessie released 2014-10-27
===============================================================================


Installation changes
--------------------

 * PXE installation now installs firmware automatically for the hardware present.

Software updates
----------------

Everything which is new in Debian Jessie 8.0, eg:

 * Linux kernel 3.16.x
 * Desktop environments KDE "Plasma" 4.11.12, GNOME 3.14, Xfce 4.10,
   LXDE 0.5.6 and MATE 1.8 (KDE "Plasma" is installed by default; to
   choose one of the others see manual.)
 * the browsers Iceweasel 31 ESR and Chromium 38 
 * !LibreOffice 4.3.3
 * GOsa 2.7.4
 * LTSP 5.5.4
 * CUPS print system 1.7.5
 * new boot framework: systemd
 * Educational toolbox GCompris 14.07 
 * Music creator Rosegarden 14.02
 * Image editor Gimp 2.8.14
 * Virtual stargazer Stellarium 0.13.0
 * golearn 0.9
 * tuxpaint 0.9.22
 * New version of debian-installer from Debian Jessie.
 * Debian Jessie includes about 42000 packages available for
   installation.
 * More information about Debian Jessie 8.0 is provided in the release
   notes[6] and the installation manual[7].

 [6] <URL: http://www.debian.org/releases/jessie/releasenotes >
 [7] <URL: http://www.debian.org/releases/jessie/installmanual >

Fixed bugs
----------

 * Inserting incorrect DNS information in Gosa will no longer break
   DNS completely, but instead stop DNS updates until the incorrect
   information is corrected (Debian bug #710362)
 * and many others.

Documentation and translation updates
------------------------------------- 

 * The Debian Edu Jessie Manual is fully translated to German, French,
   Italian, Danish and Dutch. Partly translated versions exist for
   Norwegian Bokmal and Spanish.

Other changes
-------------

 * Due to new Squid settings, powering off or rebooting the main
   server takes more time.
 * To manage printers localhost:631 has to be used, currently www:631
   doesn't work.

Regressions / known problems
----------------------------

 * Installing LTSP chroot fails with a bug related to eatmydata about
   exim4-config failing to run its postinst (see Debian bug #765694
   and Debian bug #762103).
 * Munin collection is not properly configured on clients (Debian bug
   #764594).  The fix is available in a newer version of munin-node.
 * PXE setup for Main Server and Thin Client Server setup does not
   work when installing on a machine without direct Internet access.
   Will be fixed when Debian bug #766960 is fixed in Jessie.

See the status page[8] for the complete list.

 [8] <URL: https://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/Status/Jessie >

How to report bugs
------------------

<URL: http://wiki.debian.org/DebianEdu/HowTo/ReportBugs >

About Debian
============

The Debian Project was founded in 1993 by Ian Murdock to be a truly
free community project. Since then the project has grown to be one of
the largest and most influential open source projects. Thousands of
volunteers from all over the world work together to create and
maintain Debian software. Available in 70 languages, and supporting a
huge range of computer types, Debian calls itself the universal
operating system.

Contact Information
For further information, please visit the Debian web pages[9] or send
mail to press@debian.org.

 [9] <URL: http://www.debian.org/ >

Patrick Matthäi: BASH fix Debian Lenny (5.0) CVE-2014-6271, CVE-2014-7169 aka Shellshock

27 October, 2014 - 19:11

Hello,

I have decided to create fixed bash packages for Debian Lenny. I have applied the upstream patchsets from from 052 until 057, so some other issues are also addressed in it. :-)
And here they are:

Source .dsc: http://misc.linux-dev.org/bash_shellshock/bash_3.2-4.1.dsc
amd64 package: http://misc.linux-dev.org/bash_shellshock/bash_3.2-4.1_amd64.deb
i386 package: http://misc.linux-dev.org/bash_shellshock/bash_3.2-4.1_i386.deb

Much fun with it!

Joey Hess: a programmable alarm clock using systemd

27 October, 2014 - 05:00

I've taught my laptop to wake up at 7:30 in the morning. When it does, it will run whatever's in my ~/bin/goodmorning script. Then, if the lid is still closed, it will go back to sleep again.

So, it's a programmable alarm clock that doesn't need the laptop to be left turned on to work.

But it doesn't have to make noise and wake me up (I rarely want to be woken up by an alarm; the sun coming in the window is a much nicer method). It can handle other tasks like downloading my email, before I wake up. When I'm at home and on dialup, this tends to take an hour in the morning, so it's nice to let it happen before I get up.

This took some time to figure out, but it's surprisingly simple. Besides ~/bin/goodmorning, which can be any program/script, I needed just two files to configure systemd to do this.

First, /etc/systemd/system/goodmorning.timer

[Unit]
Description=good morning

[Timer]
Unit=goodmorning.service
OnCalendar=*-*-* 7:30
WakeSystem=true
Persistent=false

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Second, /etc/systemd/system/goodmorning.service

[Unit]
Description=good morning
RefuseManualStart=true
RefuseManualStop=true
ConditionACPower=true

[Service]
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/bin/systemd-inhibit --what=handle-lid-switch --why=goodmorning /bin/su joey -c /home/joey/bin/goodmorning

After installing these files, run (as root): systemctl enable goodmorning.timer; systemctl start goodmorning.timer

Then, you'll also need to edit /etc/systemd/logind.conf, and set LidSwitchIgnoreInhibited=no -- this overrides the default, which is not to let systemd-inhibit block sleep on lid close.

The WakeSystem=true relies on some hardware support for waking from sleep; my laptop supported it with no trouble but I don't know how broadly available that is.

I don't think this would be anywhere near as easy to do without systemd, logind, etc. Especially the handling of waking the system at the right time, and the behavior around lid sleep inhibiting. Also, notice the ConditionACPower=true, which I added once I realized I don't want the job to run if I forgot to leave the laptop plugged in overnight. Quite a lot of nice peices of systemd all working together here!

(It would perhaps be better to use the per-user systemd, not the system wide one. Then I could change the time the alarm runs without using root. What's prevented me from doing this is that systemd-inhibit uses policykit, and policykit prevents it from being used in this situation. It's a lot easier to run it as root and use su, than it is to reconfigure policykit.)

Hideki Yamane: Open Source Conference 2014 Tokyo/Fall

27 October, 2014 - 05:00

18th and 19th October,  "Open Source Conference 2014 Tokyo/Fall" was held in Meisei University, Tokyo.  About 1,500 participates there. "Tokyo area Debian Study Meeting" booth was there, provided some flyers, DVDs and chat.

 

 
In our Debian community session, Nobuhiro Iwamatsu talked about status of Debian8 "Jessie". Thanks, Nobuhiro :)

It seems to be not a "conference" itself but a festival for FOSS and other IT community members, so they enjoyed a lot.





... and we also enjoyed beer after party (of course :)



see you - next event!

Colin Watson: Moving on, but not too far

27 October, 2014 - 04:55

The Ubuntu Code of Conduct says:

Step down considerately: When somebody leaves or disengages from the project, we ask that they do so in a way that minimises disruption to the project. They should tell people they are leaving and take the proper steps to ensure that others can pick up where they left off.

I've been working on Ubuntu for over ten years now, almost right from the very start; I'm Canonical's employee #17 due to working out a notice period in my previous job, but I was one of the founding group of developers. I occasionally tell the story that Mark originally hired me mainly to work on what later became Launchpad Bugs due to my experience maintaining the Debian bug tracking system, but then not long afterwards Jeff Waugh got in touch and said "hey Colin, would you mind just sorting out some installable CD images for us?". This is where you imagine one of those movie time-lapse clocks ... At some point it became fairly clear that I was working on Ubuntu, and the bug system work fell to other people. Then, when Matt Zimmerman could no longer manage the entire Ubuntu team in Canonical by himself, Scott James Remnant and I stepped up to help him out. I did that for a couple of years, starting the Foundations team in the process. As the team grew I found that my interests really lay in hands-on development rather than in management, so I switched over to being the technical lead for Foundations, and have made my home there ever since. Over the years this has given me the opportunity to do all sorts of things, particularly working on our installers and on the GRUB boot loader, leading the development work on many of our archive maintenance tools, instituting the +1 maintenance effort and proposed-migration, and developing the Click package manager, and I've had the great pleasure of working with many exceptionally talented people.

However. In recent months I've been feeling a general sense of malaise and what I've come to recognise with hindsight as the symptoms of approaching burnout. I've been working long hours for a long time, and while I can draw on a lot of experience by now, it's been getting harder to summon the enthusiasm and creativity to go with that. I have a wonderful wife, amazing children, and lovely friends, and I want to be able to spend a bit more time with them. After ten years doing the same kinds of things, I've accreted history with and responsibility for a lot of projects. One of the things I always loved about Foundations was that it's a broad church, covering a wide range of software and with a correspondingly wide range of opportunities; but, over time, this has made it difficult for me to focus on things that are important because there are so many areas where I might be called upon to help. I thought about simply stepping down from the technical lead position and remaining in the same team, but I decided that that wouldn't make enough of a difference to what matters to me. I need a clean break and an opportunity to reset my habits before I burn out for real.

One of the things that has consistently held my interest through all of this has been making sure that the infrastructure for Ubuntu keeps running reliably and that other developers can work efficiently. As part of this, I've been able to do a lot of work over the years on Launchpad where it was a good fit with my remit: this has included significant performance improvements to archive publishing, moving most archive administration operations from excessively-privileged command-line operations to the webservice, making build cancellation reliable across the board, and moving live filesystem building from an unscalable ad-hoc collection of machines into the Launchpad build farm. The Launchpad development team has generally welcomed help with open arms, and in fact I joined the ~launchpad team last year.

So, the logical next step for me is to make this informal involvement permanent. As such, at the end of this year I will be moving from Ubuntu Foundations to the Launchpad engineering team.

This doesn't mean me leaving Ubuntu. Within Canonical, Launchpad development is currently organised under the Continuous Integration team, which is part of Ubuntu Engineering. I'll still be around in more or less the usual places and available for people to ask me questions. But I will in general be trying to reduce my involvement in Ubuntu proper to things that are closely related to the operation of Launchpad, and a small number of low-effort things that I'm interested enough in to find free time for them. I still need to sort out a lot of details, but it'll very likely involve me handing over project leadership of Click, drastically reducing my involvement in the installer, and looking for at least some help with boot loader work, among others. I don't expect my Debian involvement to change, and I may well find myself more motivated there now that it won't be so closely linked with my day job, although it's possible that I will pare some things back that I was mostly doing on Ubuntu's behalf. If you ask me for help with something over the next few months, expect me to be more likely to direct you to other people or suggest ways you can help yourself out, so that I can start disentangling myself from my current web of projects.

Please contact me sooner or later if you're interested in helping out with any of the things I'm visible in right now, and we can see what makes sense. I'm looking forward to this!

Gregor Herrmann: RC bugs 2014/38-43

27 October, 2014 - 04:47

it's this time of the year^Wrelease cycle again – almost. in ten days (& roughly two hours), the freeze for the next debian release, codenamed jessie, will start. by this time packages must be in testing in order to be candidates for the release, as explained in the release team's detailed freeze policy. this also means, with the regular testing migration time set to ten days, that tonight's dinstall run closed the regular upload window.

& this also means that we should all concentrate on fixing RC bugs to make the freeze as short as possible & jessie yet another great release. before I head over to the UDD bugs page, I'd like to summarize my work on RC bugs in the last weeks, which was again focussed on packages in the Debian Perl Group.

  • #736739 – src:lemonldap-ng: "[src:lemonldap-ng] Sourceless file"
    upload new upstream release prepared by Xavier Guimard (pkg-perl)
  • #736807 – src:lemonldap-ng: "[src:lemonldap-ng] Non free file"
    upload new upstream release prepared by Xavier Guimard (pkg-perl)
  • #742409 – libsereal-encoder-perl: "libsereal-encoder-perl: FTBFS on some architectures"
    upload new upstream release, with patch from ntyni (pkg-perl)
  • #755317 – src:libnet-bonjour-perl: "libnet-bonjour-perl: FTBFS: Tests failures"
    lower severity (pkg-perl)
  • #755328 – src:libgraph-writer-graphviz-perl: "libgraph-writer-graphviz-perl: FTBFS: Tests failures"
    update patches for test suite (pkg-perl)
  • #759966 – src:libvideo-fourcc-info-perl: "libvideo-fourcc-info-perl: FTBFS: dh_auto_test: perl Build test returned exit code 255"
    close bug, fixed in #762334 (pkg-perl)
  • #762333 – libcgi-application-plugin-ajaxupload-perl: "libcgi-application-plugin-ajaxupload-perl: FTBFS with libjson-any-perl 1.36-1: test failures"
    close, as the bug is fixed in libpackage-stash-perl, cf. #762334 (pkg-perl)
  • #763254 – src:libcrypt-gcrypt-perl: "libcrypt-gcrypt-perl: FTBFS: GCrypt.xs:59:5: error: unknown type name 'gcry_ac_handle_t'"
    add patch from CPAN RT (pkg-perl)
  • #765053 – libapache-dbilogger-perl: "libapache-dbilogger-perl: FTBFS - undefined symbol: modperl_is_running"
    close, as the bug is fixed in libapache2-mod-perl2, cf. #765174 (pkg-perl)
  • #765137 – src:libcgi-fast-perl: "libcgi-fast-perl: FTBFS: Tests failures"
    upload new upstream release (pkg-perl)
  • #765150 – src:libhtml-formfu-perl: "libhtml-formfu-perl: FTBFS: Tests failures"
    lower severity (pkg-perl)
  • #765165 – liblog-dispatch-perl: "liblog-dispatch-perl: missing dependency/recommendation on libdevel-globaldestruction-perl"
    add missing (build) dependency (pkg-perl)

Sune Vuorela: KDE makes Qt

27 October, 2014 - 04:36

Recently I was trying some statistics on the qtbase-module (where QtCore, QtGui, QtWidgets and so on lives) and was wondering who made them.
Not based on their current paid affilation, like Thiago’s graphs, but if each commit was made by a person coming from KDE.

So, I got hold of Thiago’s scripts, a lovely mix of perl and zsh, and a QtBase git repository. First steps was to try to classify people as person coming from KDE or not. Of course, I’m a KDE person. Thiago is a KDE person. David Faure is a KDE person. Olivier Goffart is a KDE person. Lars Knoll is a KDE person.

By the help of the KDE accounts file, and some of the long time KDE contributors, I got after a half day of work a good list of it. Then next steps was trying to put it into Thiago’s perlscripts

All of it kind of succeeded:

So, KDE people makes up for 40-60% of the weekly commits to QtBase. This is again shows that KDE is important to Qt, just as the reverse is. So, let’s keep KDE healthy.

KDE is running a end-of-year fundraiser over here https://www.kde.org/fundraisers/yearend2014/. Go ahead and donate, and help KDE stay healthy. For your own sake. And for Qt’s.

Pau Garcia i Quiles: FOSDEM 2015 Desktops DevRoom Call for Talks

27 October, 2014 - 03:38

FOSDEM is one of the largest gatherings of Free Software contributors in the world and happens each February in Brussels (Belgium). One of the tracks will be the Desktops DevRoom (formerly known as “CrossDesktop DevRoom”), which will host Desktop-related talks.

We are now inviting proposals for talks about Free/Libre/Open-source Software on the topics of Desktop development, Desktop applications and interoperability amongst Desktop Environments. This is a unique opportunity to show novel ideas and developments to a wide technical audience.

Topics accepted include, but are not limited to: Enlightenment, Gnome, KDE, Unity, XFCE, LXQt, Windows, Mac OS X, software development for the desktop, general desktop matters, applications that enhance desktops and web (when related to desktop).

Talks can be very specific, such as the advantages/disadvantages of development with Qt on Wayland over X11/Mir; or as general as predictions for the fusion of Desktop and web in 5 years time. Topics that are of interest to the users and developers of all desktop environments are especially welcome. The FOSDEM 2014 schedule might give you some inspiration.

Please include the following information when submitting a proposal:

  • Your name
  • The title of your talk (please be descriptive, as titles will be listed with around 250 from other projects)
  • Short abstract of one or two paragraphs
  • Short bio (with photo)
  • Requested time: from 15 to 45 minutes. Normal duration is 30 minutes. Longer duration requests must be properly justified. You may be assigned LESS time than you request.

The deadline for submissions is December 7th 2014. FOSDEM will be held on the weekend of January 31st-February 1st 2015 and the Desktops DevRoom will take place on Sunday, February 1st 2015. Please use the following website to submit your proposals: https://penta.fosdem.org/submission/FOSDEM15 (you do not need to create a new Pentabarf account if you already have one from past years).

You can also join the devroom’s mailing list, which is the official communication channel for the DevRoom: desktops-devroom@lists.fosdem.org (subscription page for the mailing list)

– The Desktops DevRoom 2015 Organization Team

Russ Allbery: California general election

27 October, 2014 - 03:20

Probably only of interest to California residents.

Time again for the general election voting. This is probably too late to be helpful for a lot of people voting permanent absentee, but may as well write this down anyway. (Hm, I apparently didn't do this in 2012.)

Propositions:

Proposition 1: YES. Now is one of the best times in history to borrow money for infrastructure improvements, and our water infrastructure in the state can certainly use it.

Proposition 2: YES. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this, since I hate passing complex legislation like this via proposition, but this already went through the legislature. It would be dumb for the federal government, which can more easily borrow money, but given how the finances of state governments work in the US, this sort of rainy day fund is probably prudent. This one seems reasonably well-designed, and the opposition is panic about a secondary effect on how school reserves are managed that can be changed with later legislative action and which is rather unconvincing.

Proposition 45: YES. I can't get very enthused about yet more bandaids on top of our completely broken health care system, but forcing insurance companies to justify rate increases results in some public pressure against profit-taking by insurance companies. Single payer is what we actually need, but this might be mildly helpful. Plus, the argument against is more incoherent nonsense. So, I'm voting yes, but I don't think it's important and I won't mind if it loses.

Proposition 46: NO. There are a lot of things that we should do about preventable medical errors, starting with funding our health care system properly, testing drugs properly, and investing in proper inspections and medical licensing investigations. Drug testing doctors is not among those things. This is a well-meaning but horrible idea pushed by a victim's advocacy group that won't do anything to improve our health care system. The fear-mongering of the opponents about malpractice lawsuits is a bit much, but there are essentially no positive benefits here.

Proposition 47: YES. Requires that misdemeanor crimes actually be misdemeanors, rather than giving prosecutors discretion to charge them as felonies if the person charged happens to be black-- er, I mean, if the prosecutor doesn't like them for some reason. Obviously a good idea on all fronts: stop over-charging crimes, stop giving prosecutors discretion to choose the impact of laws on particular people (since they rarely use it appropriately), and further try to decriminalize our completely worthless "war on drugs."

Proposition 48: YES. I'm opposed to the Indian gaming system in general, but this proposition appears to be a rather cynical attempt to block new casino development by tribes that already have casinos. My general feeling is that if we're going to have casinos, they should generally be legal; the bizarre system where each casino is subject to public approval seems designed to create political cronyism.

State offices:

I'm not going to comment on the partisan offices, since no one interesting survived the primaries. Across the board, it's basically the Democratic incumbants against various Republicans. The state Republican party in California is dominated science denialists, Randian objectivists, and people who think the solution to all problems is ensuring rich people don't pay taxes, so it takes rather a lot to get me to vote for any of them. At the moment, the Democrats are doing a reasonably good job running the state, so while I'd vote for challengers from the left against several of them, given the boring candidate slate, I'm just voting Democrat down the line.

California has a system that requires voter approval for various state judicial offices. In general, I don't agree with voter approval for judges, since voters are rarely in a position to make reasonable choices about justices. Since there's a Democratic administration in power at the moment, these are probably the best judges that we're going to get (the few I've heard of are good choices), and I don't think the yes/no approval voting is useful anyway. So I'm voting to approve across the board.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson. I'm not a huge fan of Torlakson, but Tuck is a Harvard MBA who ran charter schools and then a school privatization initiative. Everyone always claims that they want to reduce bureaucracy and empower teachers, but Tuck has a past track record of trying to do so by taking public education private, something that I am passionately opposed to. So Torlakson it is.

Local measures:

Measure B: YES. Increases the local hotel tax and uses it for local infrastructure. I'm generally in favor of raising taxes, and the amount certainly won't be significant in the ridiculous Palo Alto hotel market. The arguments feature one of my favorite stupid right-wing talking points: the tax is unfair because it isn't earmarked to benefit the people paying it.

Measure C: YES. Reasonable, small reform of the local utility tax, opposed by the Libertarian Party and "taxpayer associations" using an "all taxation is theft" argument. What's not to like?

Measure D: NO. Reduces the size of the city council for no clear reason. The stated reasons are saving money (not credible given how little money is involved) and making city meetings not take as long. I'm going to need something better than that to vote for this.

Local offices:

Judge of the Superior Court, Office #24: Matthew S. Harris. I'm making one exception for my normal rule against voting for former prosecutors for judges because the incumbant, Diane Ritchie, is apparently a train wreck. All it takes is a quick Google search to reveal multiple news stories about strange behavior, clear conflicts of interest, and other serious problems, including a rebuke by the local bar association. Even if not all of that information is true, judges should be above reproach, or at least farther above reproach than this.

Palo Alto City Council: I have an agenda here: I think housing density is about the best thing that the local community could support. Housing density enables better mass transit options, makes housing more affordable and brings more housing under possible rent control, and simply makes more sense given the cost of housing in the area. A lot of the city council members run on low-density or anti-growth platforms; I vote against those and for people who support development. And, of course, I'll filter out candidates who believe stupid things, like claiming a minimum wage is un-American (Seelam-Sea Reddy). The best seem to be Greg Scharff, A.C. Johnston, Nancy Shepherd, Cory Wolbach, and Wayne Douglass.

Palo Alto Unified School District: The Democratic party has endorsed four out of the five candidates, so it probably doesn't matter too much. Gina Dalma and Ken Dauber sound like the best of the candidates to me, so I will probably vote for them.

Santa Clara Valley Water District #7: I voted for Brian Schmidt last time, and I don't see a reason to change my mind. His opponent is a Silicon Valley millionaire who is spending a surprisingly large amount of money on this race and is involved with a business that sells software to water boards, which raises some eyebrows.

Ben Armstrong: Eleventh hour upload of tuxpaint

27 October, 2014 - 01:51

I have just made an eleventh hour upload of tuxpaint, tuxpaint-config and tuxpaint-stamps. With luck, this will make it in time for the Nov. 5 Jessie freeze deadline so it goes in as an unassisted migration. Coming soon to a mirror near you!

Miriam Ruiz: Video game players and Gamers are different things

26 October, 2014 - 03:41

Even though the Wikipedia defines “gamer” as “someone who partakes in interactive gaming, such as (predominantly) video games or board games”, this doesn’t really gets close to that term means socially at the moment. Going back to Wikipedia, we find that the video game subculture is “a form of new media subculture that has been influenced by video games”, so it might be quite accurate to define gamers as members of that subculture. You will find that most of the uses of the term “gamer” in the social networks and in the blogosphere refer to that. Please notice that, even though it is quite likely that most of the gamers play video games, the other way round does not need to be true and, in fact, it isn’t. Not everyone who plays video games belongs to the video game subculture, shares their point of view, their values and aesthetics, or even know about it. Kind of like what happens with the word “hacker”. Not everyone who hacks around with a computer belongs to the hacker subculture.

Mostly everyone who has access to the technology plays video games now. From babies and kids to grandparents. And people play them in every possible technological system around, not only on video game consoles or personal computers, but alse on mobile phones, tablets, web browsers. And many of those people who use different kind of technologies to play video games are not gamers. Not in the sense of belonging to the video game subculture. It is important to acknowledge that: that the video game subculture does not have the monopoly over video games or the video game developing industry anymore.

As you can imagine, all this rand doesn’t come from nowhere. During the last months, we have been witnessing a fight between some conservative core members of the video game subculture and people who want to bring some fresh air into the sociocultural elements of that subculture. Namely, that women shouldn’t be discriminated inside it. As every time that a women raises her voice to complain about anything in the Internet, they have been subjected to insults, attacks, rape and death threats, etc. I’m talking about something called #GamerGate, and even though I’m not going to get into it, I will provide some URLs in case someone might be interested. Please acknowledge that not all the points of view might be represented in this list (in fact, they are not, as I won’t be promoting in my blog things that I severely disagree with), so search the web for more information if you want to get that.

I’ve never been a gamer myself, meaning part of the subculture I mentioned. At some point I was probably closer tho the core values they had then than I am now. In any case, video games have already consolidated themselves as an important part of current culture, entertainment, education and socialization, and are definitely here to stay. That will probably mean that the percentage of gamers (members of the video game subculture) will become smaller. as the number of non-gamer video game players keeps raising.

Jaldhar Vyas: Sal Mubarak 2071

25 October, 2014 - 12:12

Wishing all of you a happy Gujarati New Year (Vikram Samvat 2071 called Parabhava.)

May Lakshmi Mata protect you and your loved ones from poverty, misfortune, and systemd in the upcoming year.

Bálint Réczey: XBMC (from Debian) running on MIPS CI20 dev board

25 October, 2014 - 08:37

Imagination Tech kindly offered many developers (including me) a CI20 development board which let me play with XBMC on it a bit and patching it alive. The OpenGL GUI works smoothly, but video can’t be played due to crashes in FFmpeg/Libav/libva (I’ll submit the bug reports soon.).
The patches needed  are sent to upstream and the latest Debian package already ships them.

Big part of the credits go to Cory Fields who created the first MIPS patches I found and updated for latest XBMC code. Thanks!

Daniel Pocock: Positive results from Outreach Program for Women

25 October, 2014 - 07:53

In 2013, Debian participated in both rounds of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women (OPW). The first round was run in conjunction with GSoC and the second round was a standalone program.

The publicity around these programs and the strength of the Google and Debian brands attracted a range of female candidates, many of whom were shortlisted by mentors after passing their coding tests and satisfying us that they had the capability to complete a project successfully. As there are only a limited number of places for GSoC and limited funding for OPW, only a subset of these capable candidates were actually selected. The second round of OPW, for example, was only able to select two women.

Google to the rescue

Many of the women applying for the second round of OPW in 2013 were also students eligible for GSoC 2014. Debian was lucky to have over twenty places funded for GSoC 2014 and those women who had started preparing project plans for OPW and getting to know the Debian community were in a strong position to be considered for GSoC.

Chandrika Parimoo, who applied to Debian for the first round of OPW in 2013, was selected by the Ganglia project for one of five GSoC slots. Chandrika made contributions to PyNag and the ganglia-nagios-bridge.

Juliana Louback, who applied to Debian during the second round of OPW in 2013, was selected for one of Debian's GSoC 2014 slots working on the Debian WebRTC portal. The portal is built using JSCommunicator, a generic HTML5 softphone designed to be integrated in other web sites, portal frameworks and CMS systems.

Juliana has been particularly enthusiastic with her work and after completing the core requirements of her project, I suggested she explore just what is involved in embedding JSCommunicator into another open source application. By co-incidence, the xTuple development team had decided to dedicate the month of August to open source engagement, running a program called haxTuple. Juliana had originally applied to OPW with an interest in financial software and so this appeared to be a great opportunity for her to broaden her experience and engagement with the open source community.

Despite having no prior experience with ERP/CRM software, Juliana set about developing a plugin/extension for the new xTuple web frontend. She has published the extension in Github and written a detailed blog about her experience with the xTuple extension API.

Participation in DebConf14

Juliana attended DebConf14 in Portland and gave a presentation of her work on the Debian RTC portal. Many more people were able to try the portal for the first time thanks to her participation in DebConf. The video of the GSoC students at DebConf14 is available here.

Continuing with open source beyond GSoC

Although GSoC finished in August, xTuple invited Juliana and I to attend their annual xTupleCon in Norfolk, Virginia. Google went the extra mile and helped Juliana to get there and she gave a live demonstration of the xTuple extension she had created. This effort has simultaneously raised the profile of Debian, open source and open standards (SIP and WebRTC) in front of a wider audience of professional developers and business users.

It started with OPW

The key point to emphasize is that Juliana's work in GSoC was actually made possible by Debian's decision to participate in and promote Outreach Program for Women in 2013.

I've previously attended DebConf myself to help more developers become familiar with free and open RTC technology. I wasn't able to get there this year but thanks to the way GSoC and OPW are expanding our community, Juliana was there to help out.

Richard Hartmann: Release Critical Bug report for Week 43

25 October, 2014 - 03:52

Just a friendly reminder: If your package is not in unstable (and reasonably bug free) by Sunday, it's not in Jessie.

I am not doing full stats as I am unsure about the diff format at the moment, but in week 43, we had 284 bugs for Squeeze and 468 for Wheezy.

(282 + 468) / 2 = 376; so we are a bit better off than on average. Still, here's to hoping this freeze will be shorter.

The UDD bugs interface currently knows about the following release critical bugs:

  • In Total: 1193
    • Affecting Jessie: 319 That's the number we need to get down to zero before the release. They can be split in two big categories:
      • Affecting Jessie and unstable: 240 Those need someone to find a fix, or to finish the work to upload a fix to unstable:
        • 20 bugs are tagged 'patch'. Please help by reviewing the patches, and (if you are a DD) by uploading them.
        • 22 bugs are marked as done, but still affect unstable. This can happen due to missing builds on some architectures, for example. Help investigate!
        • 198 bugs are neither tagged patch, nor marked done. Help make a first step towards resolution!
      • Affecting Jessie only: 79 Those are already fixed in unstable, but the fix still needs to migrate to Jessie. You can help by submitting unblock requests for fixed packages, by investigating why packages do not migrate, or by reviewing submitted unblock requests.
        • 0 bugs are in packages that are unblocked by the release team.
        • 79 bugs are in packages that are not unblocked.

Ingo Juergensmann: Bind9 vs. PowerDNS

25 October, 2014 - 03:20

Currently I'm playing around with DNSSEC. The handling of DNSSEC seems a little bit complex to me when looking at my current Bind9 setup. I was following the Debian Wiki page on DNSSEC and related links. The linked howto on HowToForge is a little bit outdated as it targeted to Squeeze. I've learned in the meanwhile that Bind9 can do key renewal on its own, but anyway, I did look around if there other nameservers that can handle DNSSEC and came across PowerDNS, which seems to power a large number of european DNSSEC zones.

Whereas Bind9 is well-known, well documented and serving my zones well for years. But I got the impression that DNSSEC is a more or less a mess with Bind9 as it was added on top of it without being well integrated. On the contrary, DNSSEC support is built into PowerDNS as if it was well integrated from scratch on a design level. But on the other hand there doesn't seem much ressources available on the net about PowerDNS. There's the official documentation, of course, but this is not as good as the Bind9 documentation. On the plus side you can operate PowerDNS in Bind mode, i.e. using the Bind9 configuration and zone files, even in hybrid-mode that enables you to additionally run a database-based setup.

So, I'm somewhat undecided about how to proceed. Either stay with Bind9 and DNSSEC, completely migrate to PowerDNS and a database setup or use PowerDNS with bind backend? Feel free to comment or respond by your own blog post about your experience. :-)

Kategorie: DebianTags: DNSDebianInternetSoftware 

Wouter Verhelst: Not using adirent

24 October, 2014 - 21:33

About a month ago, I received an upstream bugreport that the nbd-server wouldn't build on Solaris and its derivatives. This was because nbd-server uses the d_type field of struct dirent, which is widely implemented (in Linux and FreeBSD, at least), but not part of POSIX and therefore not implemented on Solaris (which tends to be more conservative about implementing new features).

The bug reporter pointed towards a blog post by a Solaris user who had written something he calls "adirent", meant to work around the issue by implementing something that would wrap readdir() so that it would inject a stat() call when needed. While that approach works, it seems a bit strange to add a function which wraps readdir to become portable. After all, readdir() does not always return the file type in d_type, not even on systems that do implement it. One example in which this is true is XFS; if one runs readdir() on a directory on an XFS filesystem, then everything will have DT_UNKNOWN as its filetype, indicating that you need to run stat() after all.

As such, I think a better approach is to use that fact so that things will just work on systems where d_type isn't available. The GNU autotools even have a test for it (AC_STRUCT_DIRENT_D_TYPE), which makes things easier. In the case of NBD, I've added that to configure.ac, and then added a touch of preprocessor magic to reuse the infrastructure for dealing with DT_UNKNOWN which is already there:

#ifdef HAVE_STRUCT_DIRENT_D_TYPE
#define NBD_D_TYPE de->d_type
#else
#define NBD_D_TYPE 0
#define DT_UKNOWN 0
#define DT_REG 1
#endif

(...opendir(), readdir(), ...)

switch(NBD_D_TYPE) {
    case DT_UNKNOWN:

(...call stat(), figure out if it is a file...)

    case DT_REG:

(...we know it is a file...)

    default:

(...we know it is not a file...)

this seems cleaner to me than using a wrapper, and has the additional advantage that the DT_UNKNOWN code path could receive some more testing.

Stefano Zacchiroli: Italy puts Free Software first in public sector

24 October, 2014 - 20:20
Debian participation in Italy's CAD68 committee

(The initial policy change discussed in this document is a couple of years old now, but it took about the same time to be fully implemented, and AFAIK the role Debian played by Debian in it has not been documented yet.)

In October 2012 the Italian government, led at the time by Mario Monti, did something rather innovative, at least for a country that is not usually ahead of its time in the area of information technology legislation. They decided to change the main law (the "CAD", for Codice dell'Amministrazione Digitale) that regulates the acquisition of software at all levels of the public administration (PA), giving an explicit preference to the acquisition of Free Software.

The new formulation of article 68 of the CAD first lists some macro criteria (e.g., TCO, adherence to open standards, security support, etc.) that public administrations in Italy shall use as ranking criteria in software-related calls for tenders. Then, and this is the most important part, the article affirms that the acquisition of proprietary software solutions is permitted only if it is impossible to choose Free Software solutions instead; or, alternatively, to choose software solutions that have already being acquired (and paid for) by the PA in the past, reusing preexisting software. The combined effect of these two provisions is that all new software acquisitions by PAs in Italy will be Free Software, unless it is motivated—in writing, challengable by a judge—that it was impossible to do otherwise. Isn't it great?

It is, except that such a law is not necessarily easy to adhere to in practice, especially for small public administrations (e.g., municipalities of a few hundred people, not uncommon in Italy) which might have very little clue about software in general, and even less so about Free Software. This is why the government also tasked the relevant Italian agency to provide guidelines on how to choose software in a way that conforms with the new formulation of article 68. The agency decided to form a committee to work on the guidelines (because you always need a committee, right? ).

To my surprise, the call for participation to be part of the committee explicitly listed representatives of Free Software communities as privileged software stakeholders that they wanted to have on the committee—kudos to the agency for that. (The Italian wording on the call was: Costituirà titolo di preferenza rivestire un ruolo di […] referenti di community del software a codice sorgente aperto.) Therefore, after various prods by fellow European Free Software activists that were aware of the ongoing change in legislation, I applied to be a volunteer CAD68 committee member, got selected, and ended up working over a period of about 6 months (March-September 2013) to help the agency writing the new software acquisition guidelines.

Logistically, it hasn't been entirely trivial, as the default meeting place was in Rome, I live in Paris, and the agency didn't really have a travel budget for committee members. That's why I've sought sponsorship from Debian, offering to represent Debian views within the committee; Lucas kindly agreed to my request. So what did I do on behalf of Debian as a committee member during those months?

Most of my job has been some sort of consulting on how community-driven Free Software projects—like Debian—work, on how the software they produce can be relied upon and contributed to, and more generally on how the PA can productively interact with such projects. In particular, I've been happy to work on the related work section of the guidelines, ensuring they point to relevant documents such as the French government guidelines on how to adopt Free Software (AKA circulaire Ayrault). I've also drafted the guidelines section on Free Software directories, ensuring that important resources such as FSF's Free Software Directory are listed as starting points for PAs that looking for software solutions for specific needs.

Another part of my job has been ensuring that the guidelines do not end up betraying the principle of Free Software preference that is embodied in article 68. A majority of committee members came from a Free Software background, so that might not seem a difficult goal to accomplish. But it is important to notice that: (a) the final editor of the guidelines is the agency itself, not the committee, so having a "pro-Free Software" majority within the committee doesn't mean much per se; and (b) lobbying from the "pro-proprietary software" camp did happen, as it is entirely natural in these cases. In this respect I'm happy with the result: I do believe that the software selection process recommended by the guidelines, finally published in January 2014, upholds the Free Software preference principle of article 68. I credit both the agency and the non-ambiguity of the law (on this specific point) for that result.

All in all, this has been a positive experience for me. It has reaffirmed my belief that Debian is a respected, non-partisan political actor of the wider software/ICT ecosystem. This experience has also given me a chance to be part of country-level policy-making, which has been very instructive on how and why good ideas might take a while to come into effect and influence citizen lives. Speaking of which, I'm now looking forward to the first alleged violations of article 68 in Italy, and how they will be dealt with.

Abundant popcorn will certainly be needed.

Links & press

If you want to know more about this topic, I've collected below links to resources that have documented, in various languages, the publication of the CAD68 guidelines.

Pages

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